October 11th, 2017
By Beth Kotz, Guest Blogger
Part of the excitement of traveling is discovering new and extraordinary opportunities around every bend in the road – and sharing the thrill of the unknown with your pet can be a wonderful experience for you both. But when we leave the comfort of home, anything can happen, from a health emergency to an unexpected natural disaster.
With this in mind, innovative technologies can help address certain health and safety risks before they happen. Since safety is the top priority of every pet owner, use this guide to explore some of the latest “smart” pet technology and how it can ease a few of your travel-related concerns.
Your mobile device makes it easy to be a plugged-in pet owner no matter where you are in the world. With the wide array of travel apps out there for savvy pet parents, you can find important updates in real time or access critical information that will help ensure your furry friend’s health and happiness. Whether your pet had an accident or you need to find a last-minute pet-friendly hotel, these easy-to-use apps are here to help.
1. Pet First Aid
Designed by American Red Cross, the Pet First Aid app helps provide quick veterinary insights and emergency preparedness advice. The app offers guides to help you identify symptoms, then suggests appropriate medical action. You’ll find step-by-step instructions and videos that can help you care for your pet until you find a veterinarian, using the in-app animal hospital locator.
“Pet owners need to learn the signs of a healthy dog or cat so they can recognize health problems early,” said Deborah C. Mandell, VMD, DACVECC, member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council, and staff veterinarian and adjunct associate professor at Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. “Catching potential illness or injury early can make a huge difference in treatment success.”
Not every destination is pet-friendly. Finding a last-minute hotel on a road trip or identifying pet-friendly activities in a new location can be difficult. The BringFido app works to make identifying the best places for your pets a breeze. The app can even help you find dog-friendly restaurants or events!
Scrolling through other dog owner reviews, you can easily research your vacation activities before you arrive. This allows you to make better decisions on-the-go and reduces the chance of unpleasant confrontations or expensive pet-related fees.
If you are on vacation and your pet gets sick, you don’t want to take them to any old vet in the phone book. And what if you don’t have all your pet’s paper medical records with you on hand? It’s hard to remember every allergy and medication when you’re away from home. The MyPet app is the “ultimate pet record maker,” offering tips for pet care, medication reminders and access to a comprehensive vet finder search feature.
When you’re on-the-go, wearable technology brings you even closer to your pet’s personal health and safety. Most wearable technology sits on your pet’s collar, making it comfortable to wear, and will sync with a smartphone or a smart home controller like Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant. In a world where we can monitor our own well being with connected tech, why not put some of these same tools to use for our pets? Here are a few of the best.
Much like the FitBit devices for people, the PitPat Pet is designed to track the activity levels of your dog. This allows you to ensure they are getting enough exercise throughout the day. Simply strap the PitPat on your pet and monitor behavior using the app. The device stores a week’s worth of data, so you can check in every day of your vacation. The PitPat is an excellent choice because it can tell the difference between walking, running and playing. The tiny device senses the motion and calculates the activity based on the consistency of the motion. This provides you with more accurate insight into your dog’s activities.
2. GoPro Fetch
Want to see the world from your dog’s perspective? The GoPro Fetch is a special harness that allows you to safely position your GoPro camera onto your dog’s back. Because of its small size, the camera won’t constrain his or her movement or put pressure on a small busy body. For the camera, GoPro offers several versions that are compatible with the fetch harness. Choose a waterproof camera designed to keep up with their fast movements, and set up a live stream for real-time updates on their activities.
Like the PitPat, the FitBark is a small activity tracker that attaches to your dog’s collar. The waterproof design allows the FitBark to be worn almost anywhere. While the PitPat records a week’s worth of activities, the FitBark is designed to identify more long-term trends. This makes it easier for veterinarians to make suggestions and set goals to improve your pet’s overall health.
FitBark can also be an exciting addition to your trip. You’ll be able to see how much more exercise your pet is getting, and even set goals for your trip to make sure your pet is having an enjoyable vacation.
Leaving home to travel with your animal companion is a big step, and one that offers excitement and adventure for both you and your pet. Next time, before you hit the road, consider using the digital tools at your disposal for some greater peace of mind knowing you are prepared for anything.
Beth Kotz is a freelance writer and contributor for numerous home, technology, and personal finance blogs. She graduated with BA in Communications and Media from DePaul University in Chicago, IL, where she continues to live and work. You can find her latest writing here.